Al Ain caretaker Zeljko Sopic demands side ignore Abu Dhabi derby hype versus Al Wahda

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(Twitter/@alainfcae).

Caretaker boss Zeljko Sopic has urged Al Ain to ignore the Abu Dhabi derby hype and solely concentrate on magnifying their own strengths in the critical clash with Al Wahda.

The Boss’ first match without Zoran Mamic, who defected late last month to Saudi Professional League holders Al Hilal, saw them register a frustrating goalless draw with lowly Emirates Club. They will hope to narrow the five-point gap to unbeaten leaders Sharjah on Sunday when Henk ten Cate’s revitalised Clarets come to Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.

“It is very important to focus on preparing ourselves as required, before thinking about the opponent ‘s style,” said ex-Under-23s manager Sopic.

“We trust in the ability of the Al Ain players to show their best and achieve a strong result.

“We are five points behind the leaders and have a game in hand. I wish success to the team in achieving this goal.”

Wahda finished second behind the Boss last term, but an awful first half of the campaign saw Laurentiu Reghecampf sacked in November.

Al Jazira icon ten Cate then answered an emergency call. The 64-year-old’s first top-flight game in charge witnessed four first-half goals scored in an eventual 4-2 triumph against Ittihad Kalba when the winter break ended.

“I always enjoy playing big games,” said the 2015/16 President’s Cup and 2016/17 AGL winner. “This is also the same for the players, and it makes things easier for the coach.

“The players have the motivation to play these games and provide the best level.

“I love Al Ain, I have many good memories. I played seven games and I never lost there.”

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